Undergraduate Research Experiences

Archive for October, 2013

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Second month. Keep moving!

Hello everyone, I am in the second month of my second Research Rookies!
Personally, I feel like I am moving a bit slow. I have been trying to reviewing articles about LSMO and YBCO Dark Field imaging, and the concepts related to superconductivity and electron microscopy. Several articles have been interesting but none quite what I wanted. For example, one article discussed an experiment on LSMO fabrication through Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD) and temperature variation. Depending on the temperature of fabrication, the surface of the LSMO samples may form clusters. As the fabrication temperature increases, the clusters connect in such a way that uniform holes form throughout the surface. These surface structures may cause strain in YBCO layers, inducing potential pinning sites for vortices. Although this article discussed the surface structure of LSMO and potential effects on the YBCO layers, the method used for examining the specimens was atomic force microscopy and only briefly mentioned Dark Field images. I am focusing on Dark field imaging and samples fabricated by Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE). I did filter my searches to focus only on my given topic but articles that mention and do not focus on my topic still end up in my search results. Time was not wasted, however. Although the articles are not precisely what I was looking for, they do contribute pieces of information to help me guess what I might find in our LSMO sample. I have started looking into some of the Dark Field images taken from our LSMO sample over the summer. I would like to take more images for analysis but the electron microscope needs some preparation first. I have been going down to the lab to get more experience with aligning the microscope and getting things ready, but I feel I am not spending enough time. Perhaps this is due to the fact that I am comparing the time I spent on research over the summer, during the splendidly intensive and amusing Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP), to now. What can I do? Keep moving forward and work hard!

As for the peer leader portion of my second Research Rookies experience, I tried several times this past month to set up an activity for my small group. I tried a movie night and free music concert at NIU and a study session. Unfortunately, turn out was low. Fortunately, however, at least one different person from my group was able to attend each activity. So, I did something with everyone just not at the same time. For the next activity, I will try to be a little more organized. I will send the time poll several weeks ahead and send out reminders every week till the activity day is done. I am thinking on either a lunch get together or a game night for the next activity. Hopefully things go according to plan.
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This picture is from when I arranged the music concert activity. It, with only one member of my small group able to come, was not a total fail as we did get to hear some amazing performances.

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